29 August 2011

"In a sample of the residents interviewed, it was found that for above-ground dwellers of white-collar occupation, 4 out of 10 would be prepared to live in modern earth-covered housing compared to 8 out of 10 of the total sample. For these people, a large brick house was a cue to socioeconomic status. The fact that they chose to live above-ground despite the obvious drawbacks such as air-conditioners which were often inoperative due to irregular and uncertain power supply and clogging dust in fierce temperatures, suggest that some people must have had good reasons for so doing (as the lifestyle was adopted in spite of its obvious drawbacks.) Unfortunately these reasons were not investigated as they were not relevant to the subject of the research, but the following statements epitomize their attitudes: "I'm hot and miserable, but it's a good way to live—above-ground." "They're cooler underground and a lot more comfortable, but I still think above-ground is better." Most Australians and British people stated that they would live underground in modern earth-covered housing, whereas a high proportion of Greeks and Italians said they would not. Apart from the variables of racial origin the extreme climate was the main reason given for adopting the underground lifestyle, one English underground subject (U.Ss) commenting: sane sorts of people who want to get out the heat live underground." Approximately half of the residents of Coober Pedy lived above-ground and half underground; hence all either had experience with or at least knowledge of, the advantages and disadvantages of the underground lifestyle. Survey results indicated that 75 per cent of the population sample (including 50 per cent of the above-ground subjects, A.Ss) stated that, given the opportunity, they would live in modern earth-covered homes.
The sampling procedure followed was that of attempting to obtain an equal number of above and below-ground subjects. However, a disproportionate amount of time was spent in the field trying to equalise the numbers of above-ground subjects and underground subjects. Despite heroic efforts made on the part of interviewers when unbearable conditions prevailed (daily temperatures maxima ranging from 40 to 46 degrees C with dust storms blowing for half the period that the survey was in progress), and sometimes under threatening circumstances of savage guard dogs and gun-carrying home-owners, it was not possible to achieve equal sample numbers. Of all A.Ss approached, it was only possible to interview 26-per cent of them. When U.Ss were approached, without exception all agreed to be interviewed. The attitude of most U.Ss was open and enthusiastic. Even before the purpose of the survey as stated interviewers reported that a distinct attitudinal difference existed between A.Ss and U.Ss. A major proportion of A.Ss were suspicious, stating they thought the interviewer was a taxation official. Amongst those A.Ss who refused to be interviewed, there were some who were unexpectedly aggressive or abusive, those who slammed doors without speaking, those who shouted through closed doors: "Go away," and others who did not answer the doorknock even though sounds could clearly be heard from within. Most U.Ss gave their names freely and were eager to answer the questions and talking about living underground. (...)
That there were obvious differences towards the interviewers in the attitudes of most A.Ss compared to U.Ss was surprising. What could have caused these differences in attitude? Both sexes and a wide range of occupations, nationalities and age groups were represented in both groups. It seems reasonable to infer that environmental determinism of some type was operating. Although there were many variables involved, all environmental factors: heat, glare, drying winds, dust, geographic isolation, long periods of summer temperatures, and so on, would have been experienced by all respondents. However, the one factor that clearly separated the population of this multiracial township (52 nationalities were recorded) was the adopted mode of living. Occupants of conventional above-ground dwellings would have been more exposed to many of these environmental factors, while those in dugouts would have been comparatively sheltered.
To facilitate discussion on these observations, it is necessary to explain a concept originally proposed by Mehrabian and Russell, ad adopted here. Pleasure, arousal and dominance are considered as mediating variables (between environmental stimuli and resultant behavioural responses), and used to describe degrees of anxiety in relative terms of low pleasure, high arousal and low dominance. As used here, "pleasure," "arousal" and "dominance" have the following meanings:

"Pleasure: Pleasure/displeasure is a feeling state that can be...assessed with self-report...behavioural indicators...scored on a dimension of pleasantness...independent of their own arousal quality and dominance-submissiveness. Thus these cues provide an important behavioural end...pleasure is distinguished from preference, liking, positive reinforcement of approach-avoidance.
Arousal: A feeling state varying along a single dimension ranging from sleep to frantic excitement...most directly assessed by verbal report.
Dominance: Dominance-submissiveness is a feeling state that can be assessed from verbal reports...An individual's feeling of dominance in a situation is based on the extent to which he feels unrestricted or free to act in a variety of ways."

In the literature, certain environmental physical factors that have been associated with higher levels of arousal may have been influencing A.Ss. As A.Ss would have been subjected to an increased degree of exposure (compared to U.Ss), the possibility that this may have contributed to their attitude is discussed under the following headings:
1. Above-ground Subjects (A.Ss): Possible increased sensory stimulation from the environment due to conditions of: (a) low humidity; (b) high temperatures; (c) wind exposure; (d) glare and high levels of illumination; (e) positive air ionisation.
2. Underground Subjects (U.Ss): Possible decreased sensory stimulation from the environment due to conditions of: (a) absence of, or reduction in the number of windows; (b) noise attenuation; (c) heat and light, low intensity effects."

—Dr. Sydney A. Baggs "Environmental Factors Possibly Influencing Attitude in Australians Living in Above- and Below-Ground Dwellings in Arid Region Mining Town" in Report on the International Symposium on Earth Architecture, March 1986

27 August 2011

The triumph of a public art

"At issue now is the positioning and posture of King in the 28-foot-tall statue that will greet visitors when the memorial is completed in 2009. Last year, the foundation caused a stir among some in the African-American community, particularly the Black art community, when it chose Lei Yixin--a Chinese "master sculptor" who has carved monuments of many of China's most prominent figures, including Mao Zedong, father of communist China--to design the monument of King.

Lei's goal, which was approved early in the planning process by the commission, was to depict King as a towering figure emerging from the "Mountain of Despair" to the "Stone of Hope." But in a letter written to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation on April 28, the seven-member, all-White fine arts commission expressed concern that without further refinements, including changes to make King look more "sympathetic," the sculpture would be "inappropriate as an expression of [King's] legacy."

"The original concept showed an image of Dr. King that was asymmetrically composed, dynamic in stance, meditative in character, and modeled as if emerging from the Stone of Hope," the letter stated. "[But] the development as shown now features a stiffly frontal image, static in pose, confrontational in character-and appearing as if it had been affixed to the surface of the Stone of Hope."

The letter from the commission went on to criticize the technique represented by the statue, saying, "The colossal scale and Social Realist style of the proposed statue recalls a genre of political sculpture that has recently been pulled down in other countries."

The commission "recommended strongly that the sculpture be reworked, both in form and modeling, to return to a more sympathetic idea of the figure growing out of the stone with increasing detail and emphasis of the upper part of the figure."

In an interview with JET, Thomas E. Luebke, secretary of the fine arts commission, said that, while the language in the letter is strongly worded, the changes being requested are relatively minor. "It's subtle things," Luebke said. "There seems to be a shift from where it was to where it is now. Our interest is aesthetic. The commission has always supported the concept, the idea and design of the memorial. What we are asking is nothing drastic."

Foundation President Harry S. Johnson said that the objections of the commission, whose approval is necessary for the project to move forward, are part of a long back-and-forth process that every memorial has had to go through. Johnson said that the foundation plans to make minor "tweaks," including setting King's body back into the stone more, in hopes of satisfying the commission's desire to make King appear less dictatorial.

"This is normal," Johnson said. "If you look at the big memorials on the Mall, they all go through a very lengthy, and important, discussion because everyone wants it to be correct."

But even with these changes, some Black artists, including sculptor Ed Dwight, who had vied to be the project's sculptor, believe that depiction of King is anything but correct. Dwight has said that King would "be spinning in his grave" at the idea of a representative of the Chinese government--which once called King "a political lapdog"--being the lead sculptor of the memorial.

"This guy knows nothing about King," said Dwight of Lei, who is collaborating with Black artists James Chaffers and Jon Lockard, both University of Michigan professors, on the sculpture. "I've seen his rendering. It's not a good likeness of King. King never stood like that. He's standing with his legs spread like he's guarding something. His brow is larger than it should be. King never wore a bulky suit on that. The suit looks like the kind of suit that the Chinese people wear.""

—Kevin Chappell
JET Magazine

18 August 2011

Hello, Vegetable! 你吃了吗?

“Have you eaten yet?” is a collection of artist practices that work with farming and food production and consumption. It is meant as a database to find, compare and learn from these art practices, and their intentions, their methods, their networks. This is an ongoing list being compiled for the project Country Fair, within the context of China and the information available here, but it seeks to connect information of these practices internationally. It is presented online as well as at each Country Fair.

《你吃了吗?》是一篇有关农业以及食品生产和消费的艺术家实践汇编。本汇编相当于一个 数据库,其目的是帮助人们收集,对比,和学习这些艺术家的实践,意图,方法,社会网络。它是一 个正在进行中的列表,这一列表是在中国的语境和可获得的信息条件下为《市集/Country Fair》项目 所做的。但它也寻求这类实践的国际信息。本汇编在网络和市集上都可以找到。 因为这类艺术实践在现代艺术中谈及的较少,所以本数据库是很有必要的。颇具讽刺的是可及性还是许多这类艺术 家的项目所关注的。泛泛地说,虽然这些艺术实行常常跟本地环境、经济和社会体 系有关,但是它们大部分也关系到共有知识网络,在许多情况下 也巧妙地,综合地使用了科技手段。 当 然,艺术家个人网站上的信息是更深入的;《你吃了吗?》只是走近他们工作的一个切入点 。

请访问! Please visit!

16 August 2011

"this is authentic"


"There was a time when the image of the voter was limited to a person in an institutional or economic role—trade unionist, organization man, bureaucrat, manager of the domestic economy, reproducer of labour power or whatever. Early socialism was based on the sibling-like solidarity of fraternalism and male bond­ing which moved on to the caring mother model of the postwar welfare state. Conservatives tended more to a paternalist mode—being a more or less kindly father, doing what was necessary for the family business to continue without unnecessary inter­ruption. Voters/children were to be seen and not heard and should be grateful for whatever was done for them and should certainly fight for their rulers when told to do so. Admittedly this shifted to a determination to make the children stand on their own feet and not be "moaning minnies" in Mrs Thatcher's phrase, always asking for a helping hand instead of just getting on with it. Politicians fall easily into fatherly or motherly roles, chiding voters for not recognizing the difficult time they have in providing for 'the family', that is, all of them, and keeping the United Kingdom neat and clean and safe.

Rarely do politicians relate to voters in a truly unpatronizing and friendly way, expressing their feelings and hopes as one friend might to another. Nor do politicians let us see them as people enjoying pure friendly relations: we see them formally as mothers and fathers or patrons and clients, yet their close personal friend­ships remain hidden from view. If the family is the chief model for political relations, with much parliamentary debate being, as it were, a struggle between the authority of the father and the authority of the mother, this produces a highly directive, secretive and exclusive style of politics.­ The voters as children or siblings can do little more than react to what is done on their behalf. They cannot engage as friends. The more the political process is centralized, the greater will be this tendency. The principle of subsidiarity, to locate responsibility for decisions and actions at the lowest possible level, is certainly more friendly.

The larger formations of social life—kinship, the law, the economy—must be different where there is, in addition to solid­arity and dutiful role performance, a willingness and capacity for friendship's surprising one-to-one relations. This difference alone may be enough to transform social and political life."

—Ray Pahl, "Friendship: the Social Glue?" in The Politics of Risk Society

7 August 2011

"The idea of sleep as dream = caught up in a mythology of productivity, of work: "dream-work": sleep is useful for something; not only does it restore, "regain," "recuperate," it also transforms, labors: it is productive, rescued from the disgrace of the "good for nothing." (Psychoanalysis instituted the idea of the producing dream, material for analysis. Ideology of work: one doesn't dream "for nothing") ≠ utopian sleep (dreamless), falling asleep: unproductive : is even defined by the fact that it is a kind of unconditional expenditure (= the very essence of "perversion": all in all, it would be a perverse sleep):
1. Affinity with drugs, since, in both cases (Also Rescio on Walter Benjamin and H), it is a matter of "immersing one's important thoughts into a long sleep," into a "non-place," into the "fatherless" (but obviously not the "motherless": (worn out!) theme of the fetal sleep).
2. Affinity with the theme of immortality, through the figure of suspended time. Recall a frequent theme of the iconography of Greek vases or reliefs: night distributes its poppies, which are like the plant of immortality.
Diogenes Laertius tells a very beautiful story about Epimenides (one of seven wise men): "He was a native of Knossos in Crete, though from wearing his hair long he did not look like a Cretan. One day he was sent into the country by his father to look for a stray cheep, and at noon he turned aside out of the way, and went to sleep in a cave, where he slept for fifty-seven hours. After this he gt up and went in search of his sheep, thinking he had been asleep only a short time. [...] So he became famous throughout Greece, and was believed to be a special favorite of heaven. [...] He lived one hundred and fifty-seven years." To take note of (at least in my view):
a. Selective suspension of time: his body ages, but his memory does not: he looks for his sheep; interestingly enough, I believe, since memory is not an act of pure recollection of the past, as if it were external to time the better to grasp it: memory is itself submitted to time, to its injustices → cf. process of writing that I have called anamnesis, it is the sheep of the Cretan, "as if it was yesterday," but in an aged body ≠ Myth of Sleeping Beauty: cruder since it's the whole setting of life that is frozen and then restarts: immortality by means of ice: freezing of the past as a whole (cf. cryothanatology: present-day sect that freezes corpses, because they believe that in several years science will have found new means of bodily survival). Greek myth more beautiful: sleep somehow more alive, "warm," because it separates (cf. above): lets the body (hair and face) age but suspends the time of memory.
b. A certain thought of immortality, since the Greeks think that a sleep of this kind is a gift of the gods: longevity of a stretching out of life; not the mathematical, "stupid" immortality (never to die, without taking the trouble to fantasize about what such an infinite life would be, what of our real life it would prolong, at what age it would lock us) but idea of the subject as set of traces (waves) recast according to different wavelengths.
c. Finally, notice that even for the Greeks the idea of an unproductive time triggers a resistance. True: Diogenes Laertius, Greek of the third century after Christ. Laertius: Cilicia, Anatolia. "Some are found to maintain that he did not go to sleep but withdrew himself for a while, engaged in gathering simples": he didn't sleep, he did something that, by the way, can relate to immortality, drugs."
—Roland Barthes, The Neutral